An early morning win.
President Donald Trump greeted three American hostages recently freed from North Korea at Andrews Air Force Base Thursday as he prepares for a ground breaking summit on with Kim Jong Un and watches the early reaction of his decision to leave a previously-agreed deal with Iran.
Trump met with the three men -- Kim Hak-song, Kim Sang-duk and Kim Dong-chul -- after their release was brokered by new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo following a visit to Pyongyang earlier this week. Kim Dong-chul, a 60-year old pastor, was arrested in 2015 and charged with 10 years' hard labor for spying. The other two men, both teachers at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, were arrested last year on suspicion of "hostile activities" toward the regime.
"These are three great people," the President said on the tarmac of Andrews that included only media members. ""Frankly we didn't think it was going to happen and it did and we're proud of this achievement, but the real victory will be when we are able to de-nuclearlise the entire (Korean) peninsula. I think he (Kim Jong Un) did this because he really wants to do something ... to bring his country into the real world."
On behalf of the American people, WELCOME HOME! pic.twitter.com/hISaCI95CB— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2018
"We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the people of the United States for bringing us home," the three men said in a statement issued by the U.S. State Department. "We thank God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return. God Bless America, the greatest nation in the world."
The highly-choreographed event, however, which included First Lady Melania and Vice President Mike Pence as well as Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, marks a stark contrast to the overnight developments in the Gulf region following Trump's decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement with Iran earlier this week.
Israel and Iran traded rocket fire overnight near the Golan Heights on the Syrian border in some of the most intense fighting in the region in several years. The Israel Defense Forces said it intercepted several rockets fired from Syria, which it said were launched by the elite Quds Force division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News that the clashes were a "further demonstration that the Iranian regime cannot be trusted and another good reminder that the president made the right decision to get out of the Iran deal."
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, told the TASS news agency that the Gulf situation was "very alarming. It causes concern. There should be work to de-escalate the tensions."